Sewer and water rates are going to go up again in the City of Port Alberni.
But the increase doesn’t take into account the recent announcement that the sewage lagoon project needs an additional $11 million to complete.
“Earlier in the year council was presented with an analysis, a report, on the sustainability of the sewer and water infrastructure as a whole in the city,” said Coun. Chris Alemany.
“It was determined that we had to raise our sewer rates in order to get the revenue to the point where it needed to be to pay for the system in the future.”
On June 24, 2013, JP Jolly from Economics Enterprises was in attendance at a regular council meeting to present information regarding the city’s water and sewer rates. The report outlined the need for increases over the next 20 years in order for the system to be sustainable and to provide incentives for water conservation.
The 2016-2020 Financial Plan adopted by city council included a general 10 per cent increase in water and sewer rates.
The increase was based on the existing rate structures. The water and sewer rate bylaws require amending before the September 2016 billing, the report noted.
Funds from the rate increase may or may not be used to help pay for the additional $11.1 million needed for the sewage lagoon project but there’s not a direct linkage between the two, Alemany said.
He explained later the rates were raised in accordance with the reports presented earlier in the year and that council did not know about the increased cost for the lagoon at that time.
Tim Pley, acting CAO for the city, said the increase in the sewer and water rates is part of a longer term program.
“Annual sewer and water rate increases are set out in the city’s Five-Year Financial Plan,” Pley said.
“Several years ago we recognized that we were not charging water and sewer rates adequate to provide for the maintenance and ongoing renewal of the city’s current water and sewer infrastructure.”
Pley said the sewage lagoon is a capital project and that it would likely be funded elsewhere.
Going forward, water rates are projected to increase an additional five per cent in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Sewer rates will rise two per cent each of the same years.
“Our research shows that the city’s water and sewer rates are very reasonable when compared to rates in other communities,” Pley said.
He didn’t elaborate on which communities were used in the comparison.